We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Reyes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The creative gene is very strong in me. During my childhood and teenage years I spent great time taking art classes, drawing, creating fashion designs for my dolls and decorating my room. There was always a constant desire and need to make stuff, to beautify my surroundings. I was always making, making and making. In 2009, during a dark period in my life I feel the need to learn something new, to create, to heal my soul. I asked my very talented and creative mom to teach me how to sew, so she brought home a bag pattern, some fabric and her sewing machine. That’s when Stella di Mari was born. Sewing healed me and I fell in love with the craft. Since then I’ve been creating handcrafted handbags. Currently I decided to combine my passion for painting and patterns developing original textiles for my bags. My art background has helped me develop a keen eye for combining materials, fabrics, shapes, textures and colors in surprisingly fun and attractive ways. My work is a unique expression of color, joy, bliss and personality. I like to think about my bags as wearable art. Stella Di Mari has evolved during all these years. My objective is to produce one of a kind, hand crafted bags, utilizing original textiles for the creative person who dares to be different.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Stella di Mari is all about color, texture, patterns and happiness! All of my paintings are digitized and converted into beautiful and original textiles. I tailor each bag with the highest quality materials, that way they can be used as everyday carryall bags. I like to create a bag that’s resilient, durable and comfortable while keeping in mind the needs and budgets of my clientele. My bags are made of bull denim, canvas and cotton fabrics, comfortable cotton webbing handles plus colorful fabric lining, making unusual and fun combinations which are Stella Di Mari’s trademark. My goal as a maker is to produce eco-conscious, ethically hand-crafted, and well-crafted handbags combining functionality, quality and art for the modern person who doesn’t fall prey to fast fashion and instead prefers to have a closet stocked with well loved, meaningful and durable pieces of accessories. During my process I strive to use recycled and earth friendly materials whenever possible, I source my materials from other local small businesses in my area and most importantly I create, paint, design and sew everything myself and what little fabric waste remains is put to use in other ways. When I’m creating my bags, I always visualize strong and creative women wearing them! Each handbag is a unique expression of color, spontaneity, fun and originality! They are designed for comfort while being at the same time fashionable, so get used to hearing, “Where’d you get that bag? I LOVE IT!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When friends and family are visiting in Miami I love to take them to Wyndwood Walls, then we make as stop at Wyndwood Brewing which is founded by a fellow puertorrican and of course Salty Donut is a must! I also love spending quality time at Artsy Hive to paint some pottery. Viscaya Museum and Fairchild Botanical Gardens are always on the list! Caja Caliente, KC Healthy Cooking and Dogma Grill are some of my favorite places to eat!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am where I am because of the love and support of amazing people in my life. Primarily, my mom, an amazing, creative and exemplary woman who taught me how to sew among may other things and who is my number one fan! My husband Ajonel who always believes in me, in my craft and always pushes me to follow my dreams and creative projects. My friends who are always there for me and are my best cheerleaders. And lastly to all the beautiful souls that have crossed my path and inspired me in one way or another.
Photograpy by MiDi Design Studio